At the end of the summer we went on a family holiday to Portugal. Although we’ve had several short breaks of a few days each to Hope Cove in Devon, this was not only our first holiday longer than 5 days but also our first trip abroad as a family. Before then we hadn’t been abroad since the husband and I got married in Cyprus in 2007, long before we even considered having children.
Before booking, we didn’t do anything anything in the way of research. We literally walked into Thomas Cook one afternoon, sat down and told the consultant our budget and requirements (namely sun, all inclusive and a short flight) and booked! We had gone in a few weeks before and picked up a few brochures but we were simply overwhelmed with all of the choice and options. Perhaps brochures are not the best way to research holidays as I was never sure if the prices we came up with were all that accurate or if they included things like transfers. However, searching online for holidays under such broad requirements obviously left us with much more choice and confusion.
Our plan for this holiday was to do very little other than lay by the pool. After a stressful year with various health issues from all of us, we just wanted to relax and have some quality family time together. As a blogger and social media addict, I am almost permanently attached to either my iPhone, iPad or MacBook. For the first time, I didn’t take the MacBook away with me and I took the huge step of deleting all of my social media and email apps from my iPhone and the family iPad. I thought I might miss being on Twitter especially. I thought that I would feel disconnected from the world. I thought I might feel like I was missing a limb.
I have a confession however.
I didn’t miss it.
I didn’t miss Facebook.
I didn’t miss Twiter.
I didn’t feel the need to check Facebook or Twitter every 10 minutes.
I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything.
The only times I looked at my phone was to check the time, to listen to music or take a photo.
I felt the complete opposite of how I expected to feel.
I was present.
Which has made me think.
Yes social media is great for keeping us connected to each other. As someone who doesn’t work and has little connection with anyone outside my family, it’s been a fantastic source of friendship and support for me. When I had Twitter, Facebook and Messenger installed on my iPhone I felt like I needed to check for mentions every 10 minutes or so (and I wish I was exaggerating) if I wasn’t busy. Even when spending time with my wonderful family, I would “quickly check in” or wonder in the back of my mind what I was missing.
Social media became a time-sucker and weighed constantly on my mind. It’s very easy to open an app with the intention of just “having a quick check” and then get distracted by a breaking news story, or a drama between bloggers, or a flurry of mentions that always need responding to right away just in case I forget later.
My week away from all of social media made me realise just how sucked in to virtual life I had become and the importance of balance. The thought of uninstalling all of the apps, of not taking my MacBook, not checking whether my blog hosting was still OK, actually made me feel almost ill at first. We might joke about our reliance on modern technology and ways of communicating and while they have, no doubt, a considerable benefit to many of us, equally many of us, myself included, can come to rely on it too much.
We’ve been back from Portugal now for three weeks and I have only reinstalled Twitter and Instagram and, notably, have notifications turned off. I no longer have Facebook or Messenger on my iPhone. Suddenly I’ve found myself having more time and being more productive.
Importantly, during my week offline, I felt lighter. Rather than feel worse for not being in constant contact, I felt better.
My social media use is definitely still quite high but I think I’ve found a much better balance.
What about you? Do you manage your time on social media well? How do you do it?